What do you want Obama to know about Alaska?

Thursday is the big day. Is anyone else as excited as I am about the Democratic National Convention speech? Let me be clear about my complete lack of impartiality: I volunteered for Obama in Texas and I’m logging a few hours here in Alaska, as well.

Which gave me the idea for this reader poll: When Obama comes to Alaska (as we think he might) what Alaska book would you like him to read? What does he need to know about us? What Alaska book, classic or modern, fiction or nonfiction, conveys the truth of what we Alaskans experience?

It can be a novel or a memoir or — well, you name it. Maybe you think the guy has worked hard enough already, and you’d prefer to nominate a book that is pure pleasure. Salmon cookbook, anyone? It’s not literature, but it does send a message about how much we value our clean water and healthy oceans.

At the Anchorage Obama office, they promise to help deliver our chosen book into his hands, one way or another, and I’ll make sure it’s signed from all of us.

Comment with the book suggestion and as long as I get 5 suggestions or more, I’ll pick the a) the most frequently named book or b) if no book gets more than one vote, I’ll break the tie. Then I’ll purchase the book and send it along.

Keep the comments coming for 2 weeks; as always, each comment will put you into the weekly drawing.

15 thoughts on “What do you want Obama to know about Alaska?”

  1. I vote for Seth Kantner’s Ordinary Wolves. It encapsulates the way wilderness and culture overlap here, and how that blend undergirds so many components of Alaskan identity. It gives a picture of urban and Bush Alaska, it’s funny and moving and real, and it’s a great read.

  2. I definitely second the Ordinary Wolves vote. In addition to what anonymous above said, Obama would also appreciate the brilliant writing, being a writer himself.

  3. I would like to suggest that Obama read Charles Wohlforth’s “The Whale and the Supercomputer” for a very specific reason. This book is not only about the effect of global warming on the Arctic. Ultimately, it eloquently illustrates how a uniquely Arctic culture contains potential solutions to this problem–solutions that are important to the world. I would be so happy to know that our next president not only understands Alaska, but respects us as a source for unique solutions to national and global problems (permanent fund for Iraq) rather than a continuous source of problems that require federal assistance.

  4. Success at last; thanks for the instructions. Turns out I’m just really, really slow. Book recommendation, still have to return to an old favorite, Sherry Simpson’s The Way Winter Comes. A variety of real Alaskan experiences, with Simpson’s brilliant blend of insight and humor.

  5. S.Bishop in Homer, Alaska

    I don’t think the Obama family could go wrong reading my all-time favorite Alaska book – Margaret Murie’s Two In The Far North. It has it all – the scientifice historical and environmental/preservationist perspective. It is dated, but, hey, he’s a busy man and sometimes great knowledge can come while reading for and with pleasure.

  6. My vote is for Kaylene Johnson’s book Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down.


  7. Janelle — that’s funny. I laughed and had to share that one with Brian, even though we are AVID Obama supporters. Anyone else?

  8. Viva Obama! My book vote goes to Sheila Nickerson’s Disappearance: A Map. A lovely literary travel memoir.

  9. I've been thinking about this & mine was a toss-up of two listed here: Ordinary Wolves and Two in the Far North. Both give a sense of the expansive place in which we live. But the perspectives are so different: the historical view of Murie or the modern view of Kantner. This makes me lean toward Kantner as my pick.

    Other books come to mind – some listed here. The challenge of showing the unique Alaskan experience is that our perspectives are as varied as the landscapes that surround us.

    I hope that even with Sarah as the VP candidate, Obama doesn't count out Alaska on his journey through the U.S. If he comes to Anchorage, I'll be there.

  10. Here are our suggestions:

    The Island Within/Richard Nelson

    Ordinary Wolves/Seth Kantner

    Various poetry/Tom Sexton or John Haines

    Living With Wildness/Bill Sherwonit (love it!)

  11. I’m torn between Ordinary Wolves and The Way Winter Comes, but let’s send him some of poetry from Jerah Chadwick, Arlitia Jones, and Peggy Shumaker, too. I’ve heard he’s a bit of a dabbling poet as well as a heck of rhetorician (and I say rhetorician in the best possible sense).

  12. I’m glad that people are still finding and responding to this buried (low on the page) post. I will re-port higher up next week with a running tally of the results so far, so please keep leaving suggestions. We’ll end up with a list of recommended reading that anyone would enjoy.

  13. These Alaskan-authored books are on my all-time favorite reading list, so I’d suggest them (in no particular order):

    o The Island Within, Richard Nelson

    o Arctic Refuge: A Circle of Testimony, edited by Carolyn Servid and Hank Lentfer

    o The Accidental Explorer, Sherry Simpson

    o Ordinary Wolves, Seth Kantner (a popular pick, it appears)

    Plus I’d toss in a new book, Crosscurrents North: Alaskans on the Environment, edited by Marybeth Holleman and Anne Coray, partly because it presents the earth- and life-loving perspectives of many Alaskan writers in both prose and poetry

  14. I hope this is an ongoing project! I'd like to see Obama & team reading Conflicting Landscapes: American Schooling/Alaska Natives by C,lifton Bates & Michael J. Oleska (2008) published by The Kuskokwim Corporation. After hearing the candidates mention "No Child Left Behind" in their third debate, it seems this look at realities would be useful to the Obama folks.

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